Right - I'm going to be honest here - I always thought of Winnie the Pooh, universally loved ursine creation of A.A. Milne, as a boy. And it was an obvious assumption to make; in the 90s cartoons that documented the lives of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh was always voiced by a Jim Cummings - who voices various cartoon characters from Rat Capone to Humphrey the Bear, and is (don't hold your breath) a man.
However, in a recent book titled Finding Winnie, author Lindsay Mattick uncovers the true identity of everyone's favourite cartoon bear (suck it, Paddington!). Turns out Winnie the Pooh takes his name from a female bear brought over from Canada to London Zoo after World War One. The story of the original Winnie is fascinating.
I'd like to start by saying...
via: shutterstockEveryone loves Winnie the Pooh. Since his creation in 1926, everyone's favourite Pooh-Bear has firmly planted his honey-jar flag in the earth. He is beloved and recognised by all manner of people all over the world...
Here's Winnie receiving a star on the Hollywood 'Walk of Fame'.Winnie received his star back in 2002.
Here's Winnie at the Queen's 80th Birthday Party.
via: gettyWinnie was personally invited by The Palace in 2006.
Here's an original illustration of Winnie on sale at Sotheby's.
via: gettySome illustrations from that sale went for over £400,000.
Here's Winnie with Jimmy.
via: GettyHere's Jimmy Fallon presenting Winnie to Jennifer Aniston.
Here's Winnie the Pooh with far-right Dutch political leader Geert Wilders.
via: gettyYeah... it's a weird photo.
Here's a Japanese free-skating fan throwing Winnie into the air in celebration.
via: gettyNot sure why...
Here's Winnie minding the troops in Fallujah.
via: GettyAnd a sinister Daffy Duck under the barrel...
Living a lie?So have all these people around the world been getting Winnie wrong this whole time? A new book seems to say so... in a way...
via: AmazonThe story is explained in a book called Finding Winnie, by Lindsay Mattick. The book is available on Amazon.
Apparently it all started with the First World War.
via: shutterstockThe story begins when a Canadian soldier called Harry Colebourn bought a bear cub for $20 from a trapper on his way to war, and called it Winnie.
The Long Journey
via: shutterstockColebourn, having bonded with the bear cub, took her with him on the long trip across the Atlantic to Belgium where he was to be stationed.
via: shutterstockBut soon, Colebourn was called upon to move up to the front lines and could no longer look after the little bear.
via: GettySo, Colebourn decided to sell Winnie to London Zoo, who raised Winnie in captivity.
And it was at London Zoo that she met...
via: gettyAt London Zoo, Winnie was visited by writer A.A. Milne and his young son... Christopher Robin - who subsequently named his favourite teddy after the bear.
And the rest is history...Almost a century later and Winnie is household name all over the world. And an estate valued by Forbes at 3 - 6 billion dollars... that's a lot of honey.
via: gettyHere's a picture of an old Christopher Robin Milne, immortalising little Winnie as a statue at London Zoo.
So Winnie's a girl then?Biologically, yes, the gender of the bear found by Colbourn was indeed female.
The signs were there.Of course, there were signs that Winnie was actually a girl, which we all seemed to have missed.
There's the clothing.Winnie does tend to skip about the Hundred Acre Wood dressed only in a crop top... just saying...
Mothering instinct...Winnie often mothers Piglet: taking precautions to protect Piglet's rampant anxiety.
There's the name.
via: gettyWinnie does tend to be a girl's name - short for Winnifred, like Winnie Mandela or Winnie Harlow.
via: shutterstockIn the case of our favourite Pooh-Bear, 'Winnie' is actually short for Winnipeg, because that's the area in which Colbourn bought the bear.